Compensating the Victims of the Stolen Generations of Australia

The Stolen Generations of Australia, also known as the Stolen Children of Australia, are made up of thousands of mixed-race children who were forcibly taken from their mothers as part of an assimilation drive that started in 1905 and continued up to the 1970s.

On the 5th August 2021 the Australian government pledged 1.1 billion Australian dollars to address Indigenous disadvantage. Almost 40% of the funds are earmarked to be paid in compensation to the Stolen Generations of Australia.

The compensation will be paid to those who were taken as children and placed under direct federal government control in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Jervis Bay Territory. Each victim will receive a lump sum of up to AU$75,000 plus an additional sum of up to $AU7,000 to cover expenses such as therapy and counselling required as part of the healing process.

Trauma at the hands of the State

Once the children were removed from their families, they were placed in institutions run by religious or charitable organisations or “fostered” out. The main goal was to “educate” their indigenous culture out of them and instead inculcate Anglo-Australian behaviour. Only English was allowed – the children were punished if they spoke in the language of their tribe.

“I was at the post office with my Mum and Auntie [and cousin]. They put us in the police ute and said they were taking us to Broome. They put the mums in there as well. But when we’d gone about ten miles they stopped, and threw the mothers out of the car. We jumped on our mothers’ backs, crying, trying not to be left behind. But the policemen pulled us off and threw us back in the car. They pushed the mothers away and drove off, while our mothers were chasing the car, running and crying after us. We were screaming in the back of that car. When we got to Broome they put me and my cousin in the Broome lock-up. We were only ten years old. We were in the lock-up for two days waiting for the boat to Perth.”

Testimony from a child abducted in 1935, taken from the Bringing them Home report

Recognition of the suffering of the Stolen Generations of Australia

Once taken, the children were totally at the mercy of those who were supposedly caring for them. The truth, however, is that many of them were neglected, mistreated or outright abused.

The authors of the Bringing Them Home report spoke to 502 witnesses from the Stolen Generations. They found that 17% of female witnesses and 7.7% of male witnesses had endured sexual abuse, either at the hands of the people running the “care” homes, or the foster families, or the places of employment they were forced into.

“This is a long-called-for step recognizing the bond between healing, dignity, and the health and well-being of members of the Stolen Generations, their families and their communities.

To say formally not just that we’re deeply sorry for what happened, but that we will take responsibility for it.”

Prime Minister of Australia – Scott Morrison

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